Cruise passenger’s lawyer: Evidence amounts to ‘abuse of process’

The evidence against a cruise ship passenger arrested in Grand Cayman and accused of terrorist offenses in Turkey in the 1980s is so poor it amounts to an “abuse of process,” his lawyer claimed Saturday.

Celal Kildag will contest his extradition to the eastern European country in a hearing scheduled for February. Turkish authorities formally filed the extradition request on Wednesday.

It was certified by the governor on Saturday, just inside the 45-day legal deadline from Mr. Kildag’s arrest on Dec. 7.

He was detained after arriving in George Town on a cruise ship when police were alerted to an Interpol Red Notice, essentially an international arrest warrant.

He is accused of being involved in the “murder of two victims and the burning of two primary schools” as a member of a Kurdish separatist group in eastern Turkey in 1988.

He has denied any knowledge of the offenses, saying he was living in Germany at the time, having been granted political asylum in the early 1980s.

During Saturday’s court hearing, his attorney Laurence Aiolfi, who has reviewed the paperwork provided by Turkish authorities, said the case against his client was weak and he would be arguing an “abuse of process.”

“It seems clear, in our view, that if this case was heard in this jurisdiction it would fall far short of revealing a case to answer,” he added.

Mr. Aiolfi also indicated he would be seeking to call an expert on human rights issues in Turkey during the extradition hearing, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 21 and 22.

Mr. Kildag’s wife and daughter traveled from Germany for Saturday’s hearing, originally scheduled for Friday but delayed to give the governor’s office more time to review documentation supplied by the Turkish authorities.

Mr. Kildag, 58, who has been remanded at Northward prison since his arrest, was granted bail to stay with his family at a Grand Cayman hotel.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr. Aiolfi acknowledged the Turkish authorities did not have to prove their case in order for Mr. Kildag to be extradited.

But he said the Cayman court would need to look at the evidence in this case.

“They don’t have to prove a prima facie case, but there are certain cases where we can look into the evidence and there are going to be in this case because we think it is so poor it amounts to an abuse of process.”

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